Danica Patrick has all but denied that she will be a part of the new US F1 set-up when the team makes its Formula One debut next season, admitting that she prefers the 'creature comforts' of her homeland.
The darling of the US media, and not just in a motorsport sense, Patrick has been linked to a possible seat at the 'All-American' US F1 project being put together by former Williams and Ferrari man Peter Windsor and multi-formula veteran Ken Anderson but, despite rumours to the contrary, insists that the team has yet to contact her about a role.
"To my knowledge, they've never called," she told the LA Times
over the weekend, before denying that she had any interest in being a part of the nascent team's maiden F1 season.
With rumours swirling about her future in the IndyCar Series, amid speculation that she may be headed for a lucrative NASCAR career, Patrick was asked if she had narrowed down the options for 2010.
"I'd say it's probably not F1," she admitted, "I've had opportunities to take it a step further with F1, and I don't want to lead anyone down a path. It's not in my heart to go there. I've explored Europe before, [but] I particularly like to be here. I like my family, I like my friends and I like the creature comforts of my home country."
Windsor has repeatedly claimed that the team is hoping to announce at least one of its drivers 'pretty soon', but the ongoing wait has served only to add various names to the list of possibilities.
Despite four-time Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais being ousted from a seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso, and previous American incursions into F1 - notably those of Michael Andretti and Scott Speed - being short-lived, US F1 is keen to run two local talents when it debuts in 2010.
Aside from Patrick, other candidates in the frame include fellow IndyCar frontrunners Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal, rising NASCAR stars Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger and, despite already having his fingers burned, Speed. From further down the ladder, second generation driver Conor Daly - son of former Ensign, Tyrrell, March and Williams pilot Derek - and Jonathan Summerton have both been rumoured.
“We've got a shortlist of drivers and we've already had the first week of our evaluation of young Americans,” Windsor revealed. “There are some very good young Americans out there, and we will be making a decision about that pretty soon. Danica is on our list for sure, because she's the best-placed American in the leading single-seater championship of the United States. She's doing a really great job.”
Patrick is tipped to be considering the switch to NASCAR despite 'experts' insisting that her slight frame would not cope with man-handling the heavy stock cars - and in a schedule more frenetic than the IndyCar one she currently enjoys.
"I'm told [by the IndyCar Series] that we want you here, but we'll see," she commented, "At the end of the day, I've got to go with my gut about what I want to do. The team [I choose] has to make sense, the deal's got to make sense, the progression has to make sense. I might race IndyCar and never go to NASCAR at all. I'm not really sure right now. We'll see."